(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Report on the Exploration of Brixham Cave, Conducted by a Committee of the Geological Society, and under the Immediate Superintendence and Record of Wm. Pengelly, Esq., F.R.S., Aided by a Local Committee; with Descriptions of the Organic Remains by G. Busk, Esq., F.R.S., and of the Flint Implements by John Evans, Esq., F.R.S."

514 Abstract of Mr. J. Prestwich's Report on [June 20, 

XXII. " Report on the Exploration of Brixham Cave, conducted by a 
Committee of the Geological Society, and under the immediate 
superintendence and record of Wm. Pengelly, Esq., F.R.S., 
aided by a local Committee ; with descriptions of the Organic 
Remains by G. Busk, Esq., F.R.S., and of the Flint Imple- 
ments by John Evans, Esq., F.R.S." By J. Prestwich, F.R.S., 
F.G.S., &c, Reporter. Received May 16, 1872. 

(Abstract.) 

This Cave, or rather series of enlarged fissures in the Devonian Lime- 
stone, was discovered in January 1858 whilst quarrying the rock on the 
slope of the hill which rises above the small fishing town of Brixham, 
near Torquay. The owner of the quarry had the excavation carried 
sufficiently far to show that the cave had several branches, and contained 
bones both on the surface of the stalagmite and in the red loam beneath 
it. Mr. Pengelly visited the cave soon after its discovery, and, believing 
it likely to prove of much interest, opened negotiations with the pro- 
prietor, with a view to secure the right of exploration. There were, 
however, obstacles which then prevented this object being carried into 
execution. Shortly afterwards the late Dr. Falconer, while on a visit to 
Torquay, was informed of the discovery, and, after a careful inspection of 
the cave, he was so impressed with the opportunity here afforded of 
working out completely a new and untouched bone- cavern, that on his 
return to London he addressed a letter to the Council of the Geological 
Society, in which, after referring to the early researches on ossiferous 
caves by Dr. Buckland, and the little progress the subject had made since 
that period, notwithstanding its great interest on so many grounds, he urged 
the importance of a thorough exploration of such a cave, and suggested 
that this was a case " deserving of a combined effort among geologists to 
organize operations for having it satisfactorily explored before mischief was 
done by untutored zeal and desultory work." 

Dr. Falconer further stated that, " from what he had already seen of the 
cave, he was strongly of the conviction that, with our present advanced 
knowledge, the thorough investigation of a well- filled virgin cave in 
England would materially aid in clearing up the mystery, either of the 
contemporaneity of the Pliocene Mammalian Fauna with the commence- 
ment of the Postpliocene Fauna, or of the conditions and associations 
under which the former was replaced by the latter." 

The Council of the Geological Society, not having at their disposal 
funds for undertaking such a work, addressed a letter to the President and 
Council of the Royal Society, by whom a grant of ^6100 was promptly 
made from the Donation Fund, on the understanding that any specimens 
obtained should be eventually deposited in the British Museum. This 
sum was afterwards increased by the liberal donation of <£50 from Lady 



1872.] the Exploration of Brixham Cave. 515 

Burdett Coutts, of £5 from Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, of £h from R. 
Arthlington, Esq., and by a further grant of «=£100 from the Donation 
Fund of the Royal Society. 

A Committee of the Geological Society was thereupon appointed to 
direct, and a local committee named to carry out the work of exploration. 
It is, however, to Mr. Pengelly that the Committee are indebted for the 
constant, close superintendence of the work, and for the record of each 
day's proceedings, — assistance without which it would not have been pos- 
sible to have carried through this investigation. 

The work was commenced in July 1858, and was sufficiently advanced 
by the following September to enable Dr. Falconer, Professor Ramsay, and 
Mr. Pengelly to report highly satisfactory progress, and to state that " one 
result of great interest had been brought out, namely, the superposition of 
undoubted remains of the Reindeer above the so-called ' Flint Knives/ 
from which the inference arose that the ' Reindeer ' continued to be an 
inhabitant of Britain after the appearance of man in this island.' " 

In November 1858, by permission of the late Sir R. I. Murchison, a plan 
and sections of the cave were made by Mr. Bristow, of the Geological 
Survey, and these were completed by Mr. Bovey, of Brixham, at the con- 
clusion of the exploration. 

Brixham stands at the entrance of a narrow valley which runs about three 
miles inland. The hills on either side consist of Devonian Limestone dip- 
ping northward, and rise to the height of from 1/0 to 190 feet, while higher 
up the valley traverses Devonian slates and grits. On the slope of Windmill 
Hill, on the south side of the valley, and at a height of 94 feet above high- 
water mark, is the entrance to the cave, the galleries of which follow the 
direction of the two sets of joints traversing these strata— the one 
running nearly magnetic north and south, and the other being at nearly 
right angles to it. The several galleries of the cave were found to extend 
135 feet from north to south, and 100 feet from east to west ; and although 
the passages became so contracted at the end that further progress was 
stayed, it is a question whether the ramifications of the cavern do not 
extend deeper into the hill. 

The work of exploration was completed in the summer of 1859, and ip 
was hoped, but for his untimely death, that the late Dr. Falconer would 
have furnished the Society both with an account of the organic remains 
and with the general report. As it is, Mr. Busk kindly undertook the 
former, and I, as Treasurer of the Committee, was deputed to furnish the 
latter, while Mr. Evans examined and reported on the flint implements 
found in the cave — the whole being based on Mr. Pengelly' s observations 
and collections. 

The object of this investigation is necessarily to put on record, in a form 
available for future examination, information of that special and exact 
character which, from the costly nature of the work and the variety of 
subjects connected with it, places it generally beyond individual research, 

2 p2 



516 Abstract o/Mr. J. Prestwich's Report on [June 20, 

In dealing with the theoretical questions connected with the subject, they 
will be restricted to those alone which are suggested by the local nature of 
the phenomena. 

The main gallery of the cavern was that which extended southwards 
from the entrance for a distance of 135 feet, and was termed the Rein- 
deer Gallery. From the left of this, and at a short distance from the 
entrance, is a small inclined passage 40 feet long, and called the "Steep 
Slide Hole." From the Reindeer Gallery further on branches on the right 
the Flint-knife Gallery, which runs westward, and terminates in the West 
Chamber, from which other short galleries, known as the Pen, Keeping's, 
and Mundy's galleries, proceed, and connected with them is the South 
Chamber. These chambers were found to have three other external 
openings, which, like the original entrance from the road, had all become 
blocked up by fallen debris. 

: When first opened, all the galleries and chambers were found to be more 
or less filled with the following deposits, in descending order : — • 

1st. A layer of stalagmite, varying from a few inches to upwards of a 

foot in thickness. 
2nd. Reddish cave-earth, with angular fragments and blocks of lime- 
stone in places, generally averaging from 2 to 4 feet. 
3rd. Water- worn shingle, 2 to 6 feet. 

In addition to these, a thin layer of peaty or carbonaceous matter 
extended on the cave-earth from near the entrance to a distance of 40 feet, 
and was overlain part of the distance by a limestone breccia. 

The stalagmite was not of constant occurrence ; the Flint-knife Gallery 
was almost free of it. 

In places the galleries were completely choked up by the cave-earth 
rising to the ceiling, as in the West Chamber and part of the Flint-knife 
Gallery. A few pebbles, the same as those composing the underlying 
shingle bed, were occasionally found in the cave-earth, together with 
fragments of stalagmite, — portions, apparently, of an old destroyed stalag- 
mite floor. These latter were extremely numerous in the West Chamber 
and adjacent part of the Flint-knife Gallery, and also in the Steep Slide 
Hole, where no stalagmite floor existed. 

The basement, or shingle bed, consisted of pebbles of limestone, quartz, 
greenstone, grit, and shale, all derived from rocks of the Brixham district. 
In one part of the Flint-knife Gallery the gravel rested on a continuous 
limestone floor, but elsewhere its base was not reached, the fissures con- 
tracting to a wedge too narrow to allow of working them out to the bottom. 
The section of the Reindeer Gallery may be likened to the irregular 
figure of a skate, with double pectoral fins — the shingle bed filling the 
space represented by the tail, or a little more, and the cave- earth extending 
usually about halfway up the body. The pectoral fins represent the 
position of two sets of longitudinal grooves, which Mr. Pengelly states to 
extend the whole length of the cave, with a general slight dip in a given 



1872.] the Exploration of Briocham Cave. 517 

direction from the West Chamber, and also from the main entrance to 
the Steep Slide Hole. Below this the limestone walls curve inwards, " but 
instead of meeting to form a continuous floor, they remain separated by a 
central longitudinal fissure, which varies from 3 to 18 inches in width, 
tapering till the walls meet," and forming, as it were, the tail of the skate. 
The dimensions and exact shape of all these parts vary considerably ; 6 to 
8 feet in width by 8 to 10 in height may, however, be taken as the average 
dimensions of the galleries above the basal fissure. 

In addition to the existing stalagmite floor, remains of an older and 
higher floor were found throughout part of the Reindeer Gallery, ex- 
tending in places horizontally from wall to wall, and varying from 6 
inches to a foot in thickness. Above the considerable openings which 
occurred in it, there was an open space of from 1 to 5 feet high. In 
places fragments of limestone, of quartz, and of older stalagmite, both 
angular and rounded, were attached to the underside of this stalagmite 
ceiling. 

In that part of the Reindeer Gallery called the Crystal Gorge, there 
was a series of six or seven thin stained layers of stalagmite extending 
from wall to wall, and separated by layers of the cave-earth. 

A few stalactites depended from the roof of the Reindeer and Pen 
Galleries and the South Chamber. 

Mr. Pengelly found that the " dips of both the second and third beds 
corresponded, in amount and direction, to that of the grooves in the same 
branches of the cavern. But between the eastern end of the Flint-knife 
Gallery and the northern end of the Crystal Gorge, the inclination of 
these beds was southwards, that is from the former to the latter point." 
Mr. Pengelly also describes some variations in the deposits of the less 
important part of the cavern, which do not, however, affect the general 
persistence of the characters and structure above named. 

Organic Remains. — No shells were found in any of the beds ; but a 
considerable number of existing land-shells, and one limpet-shell, were 
found on the surface, and a few in the stalagmite. They were most 
numerous near the external entrances. 

Mammalian remains were found sparingly in the stalagmite, in abund;- 
ance in the cave-earth, and rarely in the shingle. Mr. Pengelly gives a 
complete list of every find, and tabulates the result in a series of 
valuable tables, from which it appears that in the stalagmite 25 bones 
were found, in the cave-earth and on its surface 1589, and in the 
shingle 7, making a total of 1621 bones. Of these, 835 occurred in 
the Reindeer Gallery, 515 in the Flint-knife Gallery, 244 in the West 
Chamber, and only 27 in the other parts of the cave. A great part of 
these were found at various depths of from 1 to 10 feet beneath the top of 
the cave-earth ; but a considerable number were also found on the surface 
of the cave-earth, generally where there was no stalagmite, especially in 
the southern extremity of the Reindeer Gallery, and were the remains of 



518 Abstract o/Mr. J. Prestwich's Report on [June 20, 

small rodents/ no doubt of comparatively recent introduction. Omitting 
these 519 specimens, the number of bones in the cave-earth is reduced to 
1102. 

No coprolites were found in any part of the cave. 

The bones belong to 20 or 21 animals, referred by Dr. Falconer and Mr. 
Busk to the following species : — 

1. Elephas primigenius. 11. TJrsus spelaus. 

2. Rhinoceros tichorhinus. 12. ferox (prisons), 

3. Equus caballus. 13. arctos. 

4. Bos primigenius 1 14. Canis vidpes. 
5. taurusl 15. Lepus timidus. 

6. Cervus elaphns. 16. cuniculus. 

7. — tarandus. 17. Lagomys spelceus. 

8. Capreolus capreolus. 18. Arvicola amphibius. 

9. Felis ho (var. spelcea). 19. ? 

10. Hycena spelcea, 20. Sorex vulgaris. 

On these Mr. Busk makes the following remarks : — 

1. Remains of the Mammoth occurred in five situations, viz. the 
Reindeer Gallery, the Flint-knife Gallery, the West Chamber, South 
Chamber, and Steep Slide Hole. For the most part they appear to have 
lain at a considerable depth, and, with one or two exceptions, they were the 
only remains met with in the shingle bed. On the whole, it would appear 
that these remains occupied the deepest levels in the cavern. 

The most remarkable specimens among these bones are an astragalus 
and the lower end of the corresponding tibia, which were found in close 
contiguity, and doubtless belonged to the same individual. It is tolerably 
certain that they had been introduced into the cavern whilst still con- 
nected by the soft parts. The astragalus, which is nearly entire, is much 
gnawed on the inner, anterior, and hinder aspects, and the portion of 
tibia is also gnawed on the same three sides, that upon which they lay 
presenting no marks of the Hyaena's teeth. It is to be remarked that no 
fragments of the tusks or teeth of the mammoth were met with, whence it 
may perhaps be concluded that the remains discovered were merely the 
relics of parts brought in by Carnivora for prey. 

2. The remains belonging to the Woolly Rhinoceros were rather nume- 
rous, amounting to between sixty and seventy specimens : of these no less 
than forty-nine occurred in the "Reindeer" and "Flint-knife galleries;" 
they w r ere usually met with at a considerable depth in the cave-earth. 
In the South Chamber, however, one specimen, most probably rhinoce- 
rine, though possibly elephantine, was found "in the stalagmite floor," 
whilst other undoubted fragments occurred " immediately beneath it." A 
curious circumstance with respect to the rhinocerine remains consists in 
the numerous instances of the middle portion of the femur, or that part 
which includes the base of the third trochanter, which have been gnawed 



1872.] the Exploration of Brixham Cave. 519 

by Hysenas in almost exactly the same manner — a condition in which 
Mr. Boyd Dawkins informs us numerous remains of the thigh-bone of 
Rhinoceros were found in Wokey Hole. Many of the rhinocerine bones, 
however, presented no marks of gnawing or of being water-rolled. 

3. The equine remains include about thirty well-marked specimens, 
indicating a species varying from 13 to 15 hands high, and indistinguish- 
able from the existing Horse. They varied a good deal in external 
characters, some appearing as ancient as those of the Hysena, whilst others 
presented, like some of those of the Bear, a far more modern aspect. 

4, 5. The bovine remains are not very numerous, and, with the excep- 
tion of the teeth, most of them are very imperfect. They occurred chiefly 
in the Flint-knife Gallerv and West Chamber. From the size of the 
bones and certain other characters, these bovine remains appear to have 
belonged to more than one species, which may be provisionally regarded 
as Bos primigenius and Bos taurus (var. longifrons). 

6. Not more than ten or eleven specimens certainly referable to Cervus 
elaphus appear to have been met with, and these, with three exceptions, 
lay at an average depth of between three and four feet in the cave -earth in 
the Reindeer and Flint-knife Galleries. The majority of the specimens 
consisted of either the basal portion of shed horns or fragments (2) of 
round antlers. 

7. Next to those of the Bear, the remains of the Reindeer are by far the 
most abundant of all others in the collection. About seventy well- 
characterized specimens have been determined. They occurred in about 
fifty different localities in the Reindeer and Flint-knife Galleries and in 
the West Chamber ; they occurred at a rather less depth in the Reindeer 
than in the Flint-knife Gallery, but in both localities generally at a depth 
of little more than two or three feet in the cave-earth. Several (five or six 
out of thirty-five) were found lying on the surface or immediately beneath 
it, some below and others either on or protruding through the stalagmite 
floor. Some are incrusted with a thin, crystalline stalagmitic deposit. But 
it is a curious circumstance that several among them, though met with in 
different parts of the cavern and at considerable distances apart, appear to 
be parts of the skeleton of one and the same young animal. Most of the 
Reindeer bones, but not all, present marks of gnawing. 

8. The specimens of remains distinctly belonging to the Roebuck are not 
more than ten or twelve in number. Some among them are gnawed, but 
others not ; but they exhibit, perhaps more distinctly than any of the other 
bones, indications of having lain long on the surface of the ground, and 
exposed to atmospheric influence, before their introduction into the 
cavern. 

9. The remains of the Cave Lion are scanty in number, but amply 
sufficient to show that carnivora formed part of the most ancient fauna of 
the cavern* 



520 Abstract of Mr. J. Prestwich's Report on [June 20, 

10. Next below those of the Reindeer in frequency are the remains 
belonging to Hycsena spelcea, amounting to about sixty in number ; and 
they occurred in nearly equal proportions in three divisions of the cavern, 
their average depth in the cave-earth exceeding 3 feet. No specimen 
seems to have occurred above the stalagmite floor, nor more than four or 
five on or very near the surface of the cave-earth. Their general condition 
betokens great antiquity, and very few among them exhibit any indication 
of gnawing, weathering, or rolling. Many among them are quite perfect, 
and in all probability belong to one and the same animal. The bones and 
teeth clearly indicate several individuals of ail ages, from that at which the 
epiphyses of the femur and tibia were still ununited, up to one at which 
the canine teeth were almost worn away ; but no certain trace of a foetal 
or very young Hysena is perceptible. All the teeth belong to the perma- 
nent series. 

11, 12, 13. Of all the animal remains discovered in the cavern, those 
belonging to the Bear are by far the most numerous, and in some respects, 
more especially with regard to their distribution, perhaps of the greatest 
interest. 

In the present, as in almost every instance of the occurrence of ursine 
remains in caverns, the extreme variation in size and other characters of 
the different bones and teeth is so great, as naturally to lead to the belief 
that they must have belonged to more than one species. 

The number of specimens clearly determined is about 350 or 360, and 
to these, from among the less easily determined fragments, probably forty 
or fifty more might be added. But, in part explanation of this large 
number, it should be remarked that it includes several collections, each 
composed of numerous bones of the skeletons of individuals of various 
ages found lying together at the same spot. 

Of the specimens enumerated above, about 116 occurred in the Reindeer 
Gallery, 214 in the Flint-knife Gallery, 26 in the "West, and only 1 in 
the South Chamber. 

Taking all the levels at which these remains were found, the mean 
horizon of the genus Ursus appears to be about the same as that of the 
Reindeer, and a few inches above that of the Hyaena. It must also be 
remarked that, as compared with the latter species, a much larger propor- 
tion of the ursine remains were found lying on or near the surface of the 
second bed, or sometimes even imbedded in the stalagmite itself. Another 
remarkable circumstance connected with the ursine remains is the fre- 
quency with which bones, obviously belonging to one and the same 
skeleton, were found collected together in one spot ; and to this remark 
it may be added that the great number of very young, or even foetal bones, 
affords the strongest possible evidence that the Bear actually inhabited the 
cavern. The close investigation and comparison of the ursine bones and 
teeth leaves little doubt that they represent the remains of three distinct 



1872.] . the Exploration of Briocham Cave. 521 

forms or species, viz. U. spelceus, V '. ferooc fossilis* (U. priscus 9 Goldf.), 
and V. arctos, or the existing European and Asiatic Brown Bear : but the 
evidence tending to show this would demand more space than can be given 
to this abstract. 

14. Strange to say, the genus Cams is represented only by the Fox, 
no trace of the Wolf having occurred in the entire collection ; and of the 
Fox not more than seven specimens were met with, five of which occurred 
in the Reindeer Gallery, and all but one on or near the surface : but in 
no other respect is there the slightest difference in the characters of the 
bones and teeth. 

15-20. Innumerable bones of the Hare and Rabbit, of different sizes 
and of all ages, occurred in the Reindeer and Flint-knife Galleries, and for 
the most part on or near the surface of the third bed, or in the stalagmite 
floor. The only marked exceptions to this are in " find " No. 92, which 
affords the tibia of a young Hare, found at a depth of three feet in the 
Reindeer Gallery. 

The most interesting of all the rodent remains, however, is a fragment 
of the skull, including, fortunately, the entire maxilla, with all the teeth 
but one of Lagomys spelceus. It was found, together with numerous bones of 
the Polecat, Hare, Rabbit, Water-Rat, Shrew, &c, in the Reindeer Gallery, 
110 feet from the Dyer's Entrance, lying on the surface of the second bed. 
It differs in no respect, as regards condition or appearance, from the other 
bones with which it was associated, and, like most of them, is very 
slightly dendritic. 

Traces of Man.— -Not a single human bone has been found in Brixham 
Cave ; but thirty-six rude flint implements and clips, referable in great 
part, or wholly, to man's workmanship, were met with in different parts of 
the cave ; of these, sixteen were found in the bed of shingle, at depths in 
it of from 6 inches to 12 feet, or, including the overlying beds, of 
from 6 to 18 feet from the surface of the cave-floor. Seventeen were 
found in the Reindeer Gallery, five in the Flint-knife Gallery, eleven in 
the West Chamber, and three in other parts. In fourteen instances their 
infraposition to bones of the Mammoth, Rhinoceros, Hyaena, Tiger, Bear, 
Reindeer, Red Deer, Horse, and Ox is perfectly well proved, as many as 
120 of such bones having been discovered higher in the cave-earth over 
where these flints were found. One specimen in particular deserves notice ; 
it is a roughly shaped flint hatchet, broken in two, but the two halves not 
worn, and their jagged edges fitting perfectly. These two parts were found 
buried in the cave-earth in distant parts of the cave, and it was not until 
some time after their discovery that Dr. Falconer detected their relation. 

The report then proceeds to discuss the origin of the cave, and the mode 
in which its contents were accumulated, considering this to be a typical 
case for a large number of ossiferous caves. 

* It was the specimens from this cave that first led Mr. Busk to recognize this northern 
American species amongst the ossiferous cave-fauna of Europe. 



522 Abstract of Mr. J. Prestwich's Report on [June 20, 

The cave follows the course of two lines, or planes of joint, traversing 
the limestone, along which the galleries have been excavated by the 
long-continued action of water. Mr. Pengelly attributes the excava- 
vation "to a stream of fresh water not subject to great floods, and 
flowing constantly from the West Chamber through the Flint-knife and 
Reindeer Galleries to the Steep Slide Hole." Mr. Bristow, on the other 
hand, is inclined to attribute some portion of the formation of the cave to 
marine action at a time when the land was lower. The same causes are 
supposed by these gentlemen to have led respectively in each case to the 
accumulation of the bed of shingle ; and as no shells are found in it, this 
question has to be settled on other than palseontological evidence. Both, 
however, refer the cave-earth to subaerial action, Mr. Pengelly considering 
it to have been chiefly carried on by running water, whereas Mr. Bristow 
views it as mainly due to the erosion of the limestone, whereby the 
calcareous portion has been dissolved and the insoluble portion left 
behind as a red loam. In the same way Mr. Pengelly is of opinion that 
the bones were likewise carried in from the exterior by the action of 
running water ; while Mr. Bristow, like Mr. Busk, thinks that they are for 
the most part those of animals which were carried into the cave to be 
devoured. 

It is difficult to reconcile the conditions of the bones and their numbers 
with their introduction by water ; for a large number are not at all worn, 
and a great proportion of them show sharply graven marks of gnawing. 
At the same time the local origin of the cave-earth cannot be admitted, 
for the mass of limestone removed is quite insufficient to have formed so 
large a quantity. Your reporter is of opinion that the bones were brought 
into the cave by predatory animals, and that they are, in some cases, the 
bones of animals which died there ; but he considers the cave-earth to have 
been introduced by water, not by a constant, slow running stream, but by occa- 
sional floods; for all the circumstances of the case seem to show that at certain 
periods the cave was dry and at other periods flooded by fresh water, that 
during the former intervals the cave was frequented by Hyaenas which 
brought in their prey to devour, and that with each successive inundation 
successive collections of bones were covered up and imbedded in the 
sediment with which the flood-waters were charged. The weathering of 
some of the bones noticed by Mr. Busk is a weathering which may have 
occurred in the cave ; for it is evident that all the bones were not at once 
imbedded in the cave-earth, as there are some which are incrusted with a 
thin coating of stalagmite that must have been produced by their lying for 
a time exposed to the dripping from the roof before they were covered up. 
Others, on the other hand, in places free from the dripping, would 
weather to a certain degree, as they would weather on the surface of the 
ground, according to the length of exposure. That the formation of sta- 
lagmite, under certain favourable conditions, did proceed during the whole 
cave-period is apparent from the section given by Mr. Pengelly, where at 



1872.] the Exploration of Briocham Cave. 523 

one spot, favourably situated, a series of thin seams of stalagmite, contem- 
poraneous with the cave-earth, was met with. 

Although the evidence proves the contemporaneity of Man with the cave 
animals, it is doubtful whether Brixham Cave was at that period ever 
inhabited by man. Caves have constantly been a place of resort for un- 
civilized man, either for shelter or for security. When resorted to per- 
manently for these objects, traces of his habitation, in the form of refuse 
(whether of bones cast away at meals, of broken and lost tools of daily use, 
and, after the discovery of iire, of hearths and their surroundings), neces- 
sarily occur in quantities more or less abundant, according to the length of 
man's habitation ; but no such evidence of his presence exists. It may 
rather be supposed that the worked flints were lost or left behind by man 
during occasional visits to the cave, either for the sake of temporary refuge, 
or in following prey which may have sought shelter there. 

Looking at all the phenomena of Brixham Cave, the conclusion your 
reporter has arrived at is that the formation of the cave commenced and 
was carried on simultaneously with the excavation of the valley — that the 
small streams flowing down the upper tributary branches of the valley 
entered the western openings of the cave and, traversing the fissures in the 
limestone, escaped by lower openings in the chief valley, just as the Grotte 
d' Arcy was formed by an overflow from the Cure taking a short cut through 
the limestone hills, round which the river winds. These tributary streams 
brought in the shingle bed No. 3 which fills the bottom of the fissure. It 
was only during occasional droughts, when the streams were dry, that the 
cave seems to have been frequented by animals, their remains being very 
scarce in that bed, while indications of man are comparatively numerous. As 
the excavation of the valley proceeded, the level of the stream was lowered 
and became more restricted to the valley-channel. The cave consequently 
became drier, and was more resorted to by predatory animals, who carried in 
their prey to devour, and was less frequented by man. At the same time, 
with the periodical floods which there is every reason to believe, from other 
investigations, were so great during the quaternary period, the cave would 
long continue to be subject to inundations, the muddy waters of which 
deposited the silt forming the cave-earth, burying progressively the bones 
left from season to season by succeeding generations of beasts of prey. 
By the repetition at distant intervals of these inundations, and by the accu- 
mulation during the intervening periods of fresh crops of bones, the bone- 
bearing cave-earth was gradually formed. During this time the occasional 
visits of man are indicated by the rare occurrence of a flint implement lost 
probably as he groped his way through the dark passages of the cave. As 
the valley became deeper, and as, with the change of climate at the close of 
the quaternary period, the floods became less, so did the cave become drier 
and more resorted to by animals. At last it seems to have become a place 
of permanent resort for bears : their remains in all stages of growth, in- 
cluding even sucking cubs, were met with in the upper part of the cave-earth, 



524 Abstract of Report on Brixham Cave. [June 20, 

in greater numbers than were the bones of any other animal. These animals 
resorted especially to the darker and more secluded Flint-knife Gallery, 
where 221 out of 366 of their determinable bones were found, whereas only 
twenty-six were met with in the Reindeer Gallery. 

Finally, as the cave became out of the reach of the flood waters, the 
drippings from the roof, which up to this period had, with the single ex- 
ception before mentioned, been lost in the accumulating cave-earth or 
deposited in thin calcareous incrustations on the exposed bones, now com- 
menced that deposit of stalagmite which sealed up and preserved undisturbed 
the shingle and cave-earth deposited under former and different conditions. 
The cave, however, still continued to be the occasional resort of beasts of 
prey ; for sparse remains of the Reindeer, together with those of the Bear 
and Rhinoceros, were found in the stalagmite floor. After a time, the falling 
in of the roof at places (and any earthquake movement may have detached 
blocks from it) and the external surface-weathering stopped up some parts 
of the cave, and closed its entrances with an accumulation of debris. From 
that time it ceased to be accessible, except to the smaller rodents and bur- 
rowing animals, and so remained unused and untrodden until its recent dis- 
covery and exploration. 

At this time it is not necessary to contend for the correctness of many 
of the early observations, so long contested, in evidence of the antiquity of 
man ; they are too numerous and too well attested to admit of doubt, and 
are now generally accepted by geologists. At the same time it is to be 
observed that the discovery and exploration of Brixham Cave have had a 
very important influence in bringing about such a result. The discoveries 
of Schmerling and others had dropped into oblivion, the assertions of 
M. Boucher de Perthes were ignored, until the certainty of the facts early 
established in the exploration of Brixham Cave showed the strong p?*imd 
facie evidence in proof of the contemporaneity of man and of the great 
extinct mammalia, and at once led to the conclusive investigation of the 
Somme valley. The evidence of Brixham further has its own special points 
of value, — in the completeness of its record, in the certainty of its data, and 
in the fact of its having been the first ossiferous cavern worked out in a 
systematic and complete manner, of which the record, plans, and sections 
are complete, and of which every specimen is preserved, duly marked and 
registered, so that it can at any time be assigned to its exact original place 
in the cave. This work, in fact, is not only important as the first systematic 
attempt to solve an obscure natural-history question, but it may further be 
considered as having inaugurated the great question, since so well established 
on other additional evidence, of the Antiquity of Man.